That March factory orders declined 1.5% was not very surprising: the market was expecting a decline of 1.6%. However, this is not good news as the prior February increase of 1.3% was revised lower to 1.1%, netting out as a negative two month change. Where this number was troubling is that this 2.6% swing brought the index to its biggest decline since March 2009 when the pumping of trillions started.
As we suggested yesterday, the Treasury Borrowing Advisory Committee (basically Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan, and the rest of the buy and sell side) did indeed come out with a unanimous decision, having decided to recommend FRNs. This simply means that Wall Street is either desperate to telegraph a surge in short-term rates, or, even worse, if actually anticipating a surge in short-term rates and is doing all it can to hedge before it happens. Nonetheless, "system limitations would prevent any possible issuance of FRNs until 2013" while those wondering what the reference rate will be will have no answer for a while: "In discussing the best index, the member recommendations were divided, with 4 members voting for Treasury bills, 3 members voting for a general collateral rate, and 6 members voting for the federal funds effective rate." Finally, anyone wondering why the market acted odd yesterday, i.e., experienced a freak sell off in the afternoon, the reason is that Brian Sack was also present at the TBAC meeting, and away from his trusty BBG terminal.
We were the first to note the dire state of youth unemployment in Europe here, and reiterated here, as this terrible social situation just goes from bad to worse this month. Whether youth unemployment is a proxy for sales of PlayStations or for the much more critical likelihood of widespread social unrest and eventually the dissolution of Europe's political compact is unclear but one thing is for sure - Europe's leaders will be watching this chart and quaking as nation after nation breaks to all-time high levels of joblessness for the critical tinder-box of Under-25 year-olds. The Euro-zone youth unemployment rate is back over 22% for the first time since September 1994. With Spain and Greece over 50% (and rising) and Italy now joining Ireland over 35% at the same time as Germany's youth unemployment falls below 8% for the first time since May 1993 - one can only surmise the rising tensions between the haves and the have-nots (even as Germany's PMI disappoints).
No need for much commentary here, suffice to say that those who thought Italy's massive drop in PMI from 47.9 to 43.9 in April was bad, apparently have not seen Hungary, Australia, Norway or Switzerland. The good news? Turkey is doing well to quite well... which likely explains why they are trying to confiscate the people's gold.
Those hoping Goldman's NFP forecast of 125,000, well below consensus, is wrong, may have to reassess their thesis following the just released ADP number which came as a big disappointment to consensus of 170,000, instead printing at only +119,000, to 110,590. (The previous improvement was also downward revised from +209K to +201K). This was the lowest sequential change since September 2011, and confirms once again, the declining trends last seen in... 2011. It was also the biggest miss in 11 months. Luckily, as the scatterplot below shows, ADP is completely meaningless when predicting NFP so our gut reaction would be to expect a beat in NFP based on this print considering the whole Schrodinger economy and what not (see China). However, on an apples to apples basis, one thing is certain: record warm winter payback is a bitch. And finally, that whole Obama export renaissance is not doing all too hot: goods producing sector: -4,000 in April, while manufacturing jobs declined by -5,000. But, but, the soaring ISM..... oh forget it.
We have said, for months now, that Europe and the United States were heading in two different directions. That became quite clear today as the manufacturing numbers for Europe were dismal while unemployment for the entire Eurozone reached 10.9% which is up 9.1% from last year. The entire Continent is in a recession, with the exception of Germany, and we think their next release, in mid May, will show that they have joined the rest of their brethern. Austerity has its costs and two of them are increased unemployment and a decline in demand for goods and services which is then exacerbated by the drop in the number of people that are working. In the months ahead, for both political and economic reasons, we will see a flight back to American assets as the picture in Europe becomes both clearer and obviously worse. All of this, however, will affect American corporations and our banks so that expectations should be lowered in coming quarters for American earnings and profits. As “no man is an island,” no region of the world will be exempt from the European recession just as Europe was not exempt from our financial crisis.
Americans feel “gold is the safest long term investment” today, a Gallup survey has found. Gold was favoured over four other types of investments perceived as the best long term choice for American investors today. 28% of the American public choose gold as their favoured investment of choice today. Real estate followed in second place, with 20% seeing it as the best long term investment. Paper assets were less popular with savings accounts and certificates of deposits (CDs) tied with stocks and mutual funds at 19%. Bonds came last at 8%. This suggests that the American public may not be as uninformed when it comes to investing as is often suggested. According to Gallup, "investing in gold has gained in popularity in recent years as low interest rates have made traditional savings instruments less attractive, and instability in the stock and real estate markets has undermined the mass appeal of those options." "Meanwhile, the rising trajectory of the price of gold over the past several years apparently offers more of the returns and stability investors seek." While some may find the Gallup poll findings worrisome from a contrarian perspective, it is not.
In the early hours of the European session, continental markets opened higher, reacting to yesterday’s positive performance in the US. Sentiment quickly turned as continental Europe released its respective Manufacturing PMI figures, with even the core European nations recording declines in the sector and lower-than-expected readings. Despite the poor data, some major cash markets are clinging on to positive territory, as the CAC and DAX indices both trade higher. The Spanish and Italian markets, however, tell a different story. With both their respective PMIs recording significant declines, both now trade lower by around 2% apiece. Against the flow of bad Eurozone news, the UK has released an expectation-beating Construction PMI figure, going somewhat against last week’s breakdown of the official GDP statistics. Markit research cites strength in commercial work and new orders as the main driver for the growth. The downbeat data from Europe has taken its toll on EUR/USD, currently trading lower by over 90 pips, but the pair has come off the lows in recent trade. GBP/USD has mirrored the moves in the EUR and trades lower by over 40 pips, however some support has been gained from the strong Construction PMI.
The question for investors is how likely Draghi unleashes some new money and gives the market another brief relief rally? I’m not sure he is able to do anything meaningful and right now I believe the market will fade over the course of the day as realization sets in that not much can be done. I’m not quite ready to put this trade on, but am looking closely at going long Spanish stocks versus short German stocks. The belief that Germany will be fine while Spain is a disaster seems too common and priced in. I’m not quite there on that trade, but it is only that am looking at very closely.
For those who follow the overnight session and know very well that the only factor there is whether Europe is open or closed (like yesterday), we have three words: Europe was open. As BofA summarizes: "Yesterday's stronger than expected ISM manufacturing sparked a solid rally in the S&P 500. Around mid-day the index was up about 1.2%; however, the markets slowly faded throughout the rest of the day ending up 0.6%. Our equity strategy team things that the S&P is roughly at its fair value given the macroeconomic backdrop and the continued troubles in the Euro area." It is hardly rocket science that Europe will continue to drag on the world. The only question is how long before this nexus of global trade drags everyone else down, because as hard as they try the US and the BRICs simply can not pull away from the tractor beam of the European black hole.
- European Unemployment Rate Rises to Highest in Almost 15 Years (Bloomberg)
- Chinese Activist Leaves U.S. Embassy (WSJ)
- China April bank loans slide 30 pct from March-paper (Reuters)
- Moody's warns against lack of tax hike in Japan (Reuters)
- RIM CEO Bets on BlackBerry Without Keyboard to Challenge Apple (Bloomberg)
- European visits focus on boosting trade (China Daily)
- Martin Wolf- After the bonfire of the verities (FT)
- German Jobless Unexpectedly Up in April as Crisis Flared (Bloomberg)
- Romney Refuses to See China Progress on Yuan (Bloomberg)
- Bolivia Following Argentine Takeover Deepens Regional Divide (Bloomberg)
- Plosser Says Fed Must Guard Against Long-Term Inflation (Bloomberg)
Yesterday we poked fun of Goldman for suggesting that the reason for the late-day sell off was "Prudent profit-taking as folks remember Europe isn’t closed tomorrow." Turns out Goldman could not have been more right: around 4 am Eastern this morning Europe reported a series of economic updates which showed that the European economy continues to be nothing but a slow motion trainwreck and is getting far worse. Starting with final April Eurozone Manufacturing PMI which printed at 45.9 vs an initial print of 46.0, a 9 month low with a core breakdown is as follows: Italian manufacturing PMI 43.8 at a 6 month low, est 47.1 (prior 47.9), German manufacturing PMI at a 33 month low 46.2 vs initial 46.3 (prior 48.4), France manufacturing PMI 46.9 vs initial 47.3 (prior 46.7), which also followed Italy by recording sharpest drop in manufacturing new orders in 3 yrs in April, and so on as can be seen in the chart below. As every sellsider who has opined so far this morning, these numbers are all "hugely disappointing."